If you have PCOS then you may have heard of inositol as a supplement to help manage your symptoms. But, unlike vitamin D, omega-3 and folic acid you may not have heard of it before your diagnosis. Interested in learning more about inositol, the different types of inositol, and where you can buy inositol in the UK? Keep reading!
What is PCOS?
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine (hormone) disorder that affects 1 in 10 people with ovaries in the UK. Symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, difficulty getting pregnant, acne, oily skin, mood swings, excess hair growth (hirsutism), alopecia and more.
PCOS is a syndrome, which means it is a collection of symptoms. Therefore, there are likely many more symptoms associated with it. You are the expert on your own body and may notice other symptoms that may be linked to PCOS.
One symptom and driver of PCOS is insulin resistance. Up to 95% of people with PCOS have insulin resistance, no matter their body weight.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s tissues are resistant to the effects of insulin. This means that the cells don’t allow glucose to enter. In PCOS, insulin resistance occurs because the higher androgen levels reduce sensitivity to insulin in the body.
In the research, one supplement for PCOS that has been gaining popularity due to its promising benefits for insulin resistance and other PCOS symptoms is inositol.
What is inositol?
Inositol is a type of sugar alcohol in the brain and other tissues. It is made naturally in the body from glucose and the kidneys produce about 2g/day.
Inositol is considered a safe treatment for PCOS and it works by increasing insulin sensitivity which, in turn, improves ovarian function and reduces excess androgen levels. There is also some evidence that inositol can reduce the risk of metabolic disease i.e. increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
The use of inositol in PCOS is emerging and promising with a 70% efficacy being reported although there is some evidence that suggests some people with PCOS may be resistant to inositol and its effects. Inositol should be considered an experimental treatment and used in tandem with other medications, supplements and lifestyle advice from your doctor or nutrition professional.
What is the difference between myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol?
When talking about inositol we really are talking about nine different stereoisomers. Although there are two inositol isomers that are of particular interest for PCOS management.
Firstly, myo-inositol is involved in the transporter’s activation and glucose use, while D-Chiro is involved in glycogen synthesis and storage.
Myo-inositol was considered a member of the B-vitamin complex and was known as B8 despite not being an essential nutrient, as it can be produced by the body from glucose. As myo-inositol is an FSH second messenger, it is effective in restoring an optimal FSH/LH ratio and regulating the menstrual cycle. This link to FSH can also lead to improved ovarian follicle maturation and higher oocyte quality – potentially increasing reproductive success.
Secondly, D-chiro inositol is involved in the synthesis of androgens, dependent on insulin, and promotes glucose storage. Although theoretically, it seems that increasing myo-inositol would improve PCOS symptoms and outcomes due to myo-inositol depletion in PCOS, administering inositol in the physiological ratio of 40:1 is more effective. Interestingly, the use of the 40:1 ratio shows the same efficacy as myo-inositol but in a shorter time.
Should I buy an inositol powder or capsule supplement?
You can purchase inositol in powder or capsule form. Both forms of inositol should work in a similar fashion so choose the supplement that is easier and more pleasant for you to consume.
Where can I buy inositol in the UK and which inositol supplement is best?
There are plenty of inositol supplements on the market in the UK and across the world. We have collated some of the most popular inositol supplements to help you decide which inositol supplement is best for you if you choose to take it. Please speak with a healthcare professional before trying inositol.
Ovasitol contains unflavored 100% pure inositol powder. It is designed to be mixed with water or any other beverage. Provides 2000 mg of myo-inositol and 50 mg of D-chiro-inositol, in the body's normal ratio of 40 to 1.
- No additives
- 100% pure inositols
- Gluten free
Blend of myo-inositol, d-chiro-inositol, folate and chromium in optimal levels.
- 2000mg Myo-inositol, 300mg D-chiro-inositol, 400ug Folate (Quatrefolic®), 100ug Chromium Picolinate. Capsule Shell: Pullulan.
- Vegan, free from soy, gluten and additives
- Take 4 capsules daily, 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening